AUD $220.00

Konyak Naga, "trophy head" Necklace

An old cast brass head hunters’ trophy pendant, with four heads, suspended from alternating red and yellow tubular glass beads.
Worn traditionally by Konyak warriors, in Nagaland (in the far NE of India between Assam and Burma) to show how many “heads” the wearer had taken in raids on rival villages. The warriors then come down from Nagaland, to the Indian casters working in the lowlands to commission their status defining trophy neck, to then be worn back into the hills. We sourced this neck in Kathmandu, so it’s travelled up into Nepal.
The brass has acquired a smoothed mellow dullness, which I think implies some age.
These four remaining heads appear to be the remnant of a wider unknown number of heads, as only one ear is present. The other ear is actually the well worn ”spacer” that would have joined the next head(s).
Normally hung from the looplike ear, these heads are now suspended from holes drilled into their crowns, these in turn show some smooth wear. If you look closely the grooves around the lips are said to indicate the lips having been sewn to stop the spirit cursing the wearer/killer.

Some sceptics snort, ”none of them are old!”

But despite efforts by the British Raj, even into the thirties, headhunting continued into WW 2. And that’s not so long ago. It’s possible then that a piece that’s only 60 years old could be authentic, I’m not saying it is for sure but it is possible.
Unrest and seperatist fighting still keep this area out of bounds for tourists, but it’s not the ritualized headhunting of the past. In fact, ironically, I think they’re now Baptist Headhunters.
The beads are fairly old, or a mixture of, (though some are a little shiny) and have been worn for some time, before this their latest threading.
As they are still worn for big occasions they may have acquired their patina worn as they are currently threaded, with a macramed red cord for round the back of the neck.
Impressive to wear, they are long enough to just pop over the head or hung on a wall for display.
The brass has a nice mellow, worn patina so don’t even think about polishing it!

Age: Mid 20th Century

Size L 36 cm (top to bottom) x W 14.5 cm (accross the heads.)

Weight: 221 grams